Now that the snowflakes have begun to fly here in Fairfax County, you’ve no doubt tucked your feet into warm socks, heavy shoes and boots, and fuzzy slippers for inside. Well, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center encourages you not to forget about good foot care during the colder months. Your feet may be hidden, but they still need daily care.
Near-freezing temperatures pose some specific challenges to your feet, including:
Three things contribute to drier skin in the wintertime:
- There’s less moisture in the air.
- The heat is on indoors, further drying the air.
- Hot showers, which are tempting to take when you’re feeling cold, dry out your skin.
Consistent dryness can lead to flaking skin and painful heel cracks. Combat these by moisturizing your feet daily after you shower. Avoid putting moisturizer between your toes, as this can encourage the growth of fungus.
Covered feet tend to sweat more. Warm, sweaty feet make the perfect environment for fungi to grow, causing an itchy, red skin rash known as athlete’s foot. It can also spread to your toenails. Avoid these fungal problems by changing your socks often, letting your shoes or boots dry out before you wear them again, and keeping your feet clean and dry. If you’ve had a fungal foot infection in the past, you might also consider treating your shoes with an anti-fungal spray.
Special diabetic concerns
Dry skin and fungal infections are annoying to all and especially threatening to anyone with diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy, or nerve damage, makes it difficult to feel what’s going with your feet. Diabetics may not be able to tell that their feet are cold and damp. It’s important, then, for people with diabetes to be extra-vigilant about keeping their feet clean, warm, and dry in order to avoid dangerous infections.
Dr. Wilhelm is available to patients in the northern Virginia area who need foot care in any weather and at any time of the year. Stay warm this winter, don’t forget your feet, and contact us if your feet are giving you any problems. Call us in Centreville at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online.